Working group

Working group

: "For the kennel club designation of thoroughbred canines, see Working Group (dogs)."

A working group (WG) is an interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers working on new research activities that would be difficult to develop under traditional funding mechanisms (e.g. federal agencies). The lifespan of the WG can last anywhere between a few months and several years. Such groups have the tendency to develop a "quasi-permanent existence" once the assigned task is accomplished; hence the need to disband (or phase out) the WG once it has provided solutions to the issues for which it was "initially" convened. Such goals to be achieved may include:

:* creation of an informational document;:* creation of a standard, or :* resolution of problems related to a system or network.

The WG may assemble experts (and future experts) on a topic together for intensive work. It is not an avenue for briefing novices about the subject matter. Occasionally, a group might admit a person with little experience and a lot of enthusiasm. However, such participants should be present as observers and in the minority.

Working groups are also referred to as "task groups" or "technical advisory groups".


The nature of the working group may depend on the group's "raison d’être" — which may be technical, artistic (specifically musical), or administrative in nature.

Administrative working groups

These working groups are established by decision makers at higher levels of the organization for the following purposes:
# To elaborate, consolidate, and build on the consensus of the decision makers; and
# To ensure (and improve) coordination among the various segments of the organization. A shared commitment to agreed common aims develops among the parties as they work together to clarify issues, formulate strategies, and develop action plans.

Musical working groups

Although any artisan or artist can benefit from being part of a working group, it is especially of great import for session players. Musicians face a variety of challenges that can impede the formation of musical working groups, such as touring and studio recording sessions. Such activities make it that much more difficult to concentrate on the developing the cohesiveness that is required to maintain a working group.

However, working groups have been shown to be rewarding to the stakeholders, as it fosters innovation. By working with the same people frequently, members become familiar with the répertoire of other members, which develops trust and encourages spontaneity.

Some of the more notable musical working groups include:

:* Abdullah Ibrahim Trio;:* Alex von Schlippenbach Trio;:* Dave Holland "(Trio, Quartet, or Quintet)";:* Die Like A Dog Quartet;:* Gary Bartz Quartet;:* Vandermark 5; and:* William Parker Quartet "(Trio/Quartet).

Technical working groups

In many technical organizations, for example Standards organizations, the groups that meet and make decisions are called "working groups". Examples include:

* IETF working groups (which are subordinate to Areas)
* ISO working groups (which are subordinate to an SC (subcommittee), subordinate to a TC (technical committee)
* W3C working groups

In some cases, like the Printer Working Group, an entire consortium uses the term "working group" for itself.

The rules for who can be a part of the working groups, and how a working group makes decisions, varies considerably between organizations.



It is imperative for the participants to appreciate and understand that the working group is intended to be a forum for cooperation and participation. Participants represent the interests and views of stakeholders from disparate sectors of the community which happen to have a vested interest in the results of the WG. Therefore, maintaining and strengthening communication lines with all parties involved is essential (this responsibility cuts both ways — stakeholders are expected to share what information, knowledge and expertise they have on the issue.)

Programmes developed should be evaluated by encouraging community input and support; this will ensure that such programmes meet the community's vision for its future. The WG should also regularly seek community feedback on their projects. Apropos questions to be asked during such meetings include:

:* What were the objectives of the program?:* What were the results of the project?:* What effect did the results have on the identified problem?:* What unexpected results — desirable or otherwise — were observed?:* How were the results achieved? (Was it by the methods and techniques originally intended, or did these evolve with implementation?):* Was there an effective use of community resources?:* Should our objective or methods be changed?

Depending on the lifespan of the WG, involved parties (at the very least) convene annually. However, such meetings may happen as often as once every semester or trimester.

ee also

*Action group


* [ IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures]
* [ Tools To Support Participatory Urban Decision Making] a component of the United Nations' Urban Governance Toolkit Series (PDF)
* [ Establishing and Supporting the Working Group Process] A source book for the Sustainable Cities Programme (PDF)

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